Sleep-overs are an important rite of passage for teens and pre-teens. But any parent who’s ever hosted one will tell you that the potential for disaster (spills and messes, hurt feelings, mischief and trouble) is very high. Work with your kids to pick the guest list carefully. Keeping the guest list under control will not only mean that you probably won’t have to worry about finding space for everyone to spread their sleeping bag, and it will also help to minimize personality conflicts between guests. There are no hard and fast rules — some people suggest limiting the number of guests to the number of years in your child’s age. But if you have a ten year old, or a 12 year old, the thought of having that many kids over to your house might very well be enough to make your head explode. Base your guest limit on your child’s maturity level, experience with slumber parties, and how well you know the kids involved. Nothing’s worse than having a child invited to your house to sleep over, who then gets excluded and teased all night.
Depending on the age of the kids, you may be in charge of organizing games and activities, or you may not. Regardless, checking in on everyone occasionally is a must. Some groups will require more supervision than others, of course, so gauge your involvement level as needed.
You probably have a vision as to how the night is going to unfold. This may include ground rules and absolute no-no’s. Share these expectations with your pint sized host before the guests arrive. Setting an expectation of how long noise is acceptable for, what time you expect “lights out” to be, and where in the house the guests are allowed to roam should all be agreed upon before the exciting event starts.
Or, if all of this just seems too much to wrap your mind around, consider what my cousin did for her daughter: host an “almost” sleep over. Her daughter and friends were just old enough to want a sleep-over, but just young enough that the idea of sleeping away from Mom and Dad was a bit scary, and my cousin wasn’t up for consoling and reassuring all night. So she invited her daughter’s friends to come over in the early evening in the their pj’s, and they played a few games, made their own pizzas, had cake and junk food, then everyone was picked up and taken home right before bed time. A big success! A sleep- over without the pretence or expectation of sleep? Just maybe, the perfect solution.